Water Wars: Climate Change May Spark Conflict

Water Wars: Climate Change May Spark Conflict

The Independent & The Independent on Sunday
9 February 2007 20:52 Home > News > Environment

Water Wars: Climate change may spark conflict
John Reid warns climate change may spark conflict between nations - and says British armed forces must be ready to tackle the violence

Published: 28 February 2006

Israel, Jordan and Palestine

Five per cent of the world's population survives on 1 per cent of its water in the Middle East and this contributed to the 1967 Arab -Israeli war. It could fuel further military crises as global warming continues. Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan rely on the River Jordan but Israel controls it and has cut supplies during times of scarcity. Palestinian consumption is severely restricted by Israel.

Turkey and Syria

Turkish plans to build dams on the Euphrates River brought the country to the brink of war with Syria in 1998. Damascus accused Ankara of deliberately meddling with their water supply as the country lies downstream of Turkey, who accused Syria of sheltering key Kurdish separatist leaders. Water shortages driven by global warming will pile on the pressure in this volatile region.

China and India

The Brahmaputra River has caused tension between India and China and could be a flashpoint for two of the world's biggest armies. In 2000, India accused China of not sharing information of the river's status in the run up to landslides in Tibet which caused floods in northeastern India and Bangladesh. Chinese proposals to divert the river have concerned Delhi.

Angola and Namibia

Tensions have flared between Botswana, Namibia and Angola around the vast Okavango basin. And droughts have seen Namibia revive plans for a 250-mile water pipeline to supply the capital. Draining the delta would be lethal for locals and tourism. Without the annual flood from the north, the swamps will shrink and water will bleed way into the Kalahari Desert

Ethiopia and Egypt

Population growth in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia is threatening conflict along the world's longest river, The Nile. Ethiopia is pressing for a greater share of the Blue Nile's water but that would leave downstream Egypt as a loser. Egypt is worried the White Nile running through Uganda and Sudan, could be depleted as well before it reaches the parched Sinai desert.

Bangladesh and India

Floods in the Ganges caused by melting glaciers in the Himalayas are wreaking havoc in Bangladesh leading to a rise in illegal migration to India. This has prompted India to build an immense border fence in attempt to block newcomers. Some 6,000 people illegally cross the border to India every day.
Some statistics about real people worth repeating:
And these statistics were gleaned from the World Water International site. The comments are mine:

*Over 1 BILLION people worldwide currently do not have access to clean safe drinking water. They cannot just walk into a corner store and buy a bottle of Evian. They are politically oppressed, poor, sick, weak, and many times in need of proper sanitation facilities, pumps, wells, and water enough even for one day to sustain themselves ane their children. No one should have to live this way.

*Unsafe drinking water (or TOXIC water) will kill over 14,000 people today, tomorrow, and every other day this problem is ignored. Those who believe corporations should "police" themselves regarding the crap they dump into our water, should then also have to be the ones who drink it! I don't think I need to tell anyone reading this the amount of disease in untreated feces ladden toxic water. And people around the world daily HAVE NOTHING ELSE, or NOTHING AT ALL.

*11,000 of them children, will die because of lack clean safe water, and inadeqaute access to proper sanitation. Can you picture a village with improper sanitation and what it looks and smells like? Can you picture streams of feces ladden water running through your own town knowing that is all you have? Would you want your children playing in it?

*Women and girls (and that is an issue in and of itself regarding the gender that is required to do this work) will spend more than 200 million hours walking just to get enough of the polluted water that is available for one more day's survival. And in many instances, purified water (or what they say is purified water) is available, but you have to be able to afford to pay the company master to get it. And in many places such as Kenya, they take their own lives into their hands just by walking to get water for their families. Children and women have been raped, beaten, and killed just to take the water they worked so hard to get.

Again, NO ONE should have to live this way, and with climate change becoming a very important factor in the recession and evaporation of water in bodies of water like Lake Chad, Lake Victoria, and other bodies of water around the world due to glacier melt and drought, conditions will not get much better should the current scenario not change.
Some of my other entries on this warning of what we are heading for if we do not pay closer attention to water scarcity in this world follow. We WILL fight for water and are already doing so. Would you kill for water? Perhaps the WTO and World Bank are banking on that as they work to privatize the world's water in the wake of these events and predictions.

Water Wars Are Here-We Were Warned

Killing For Water

War Over Kalabagh Dam?

Destroying A Himalayan Paradise

Israeli-Lebanon War Over Water?

These are but a few examples of tensions around the world regarding water rights, scarcity, and control and there are many more stretching from Montana, to California, to Texas, to Maine in this country, to South America, Canada, Mexico, Asia, to the Middle East(particularly Turkey and Iraq,) and now Australia, where PM Howard is determined to now use the worst drought Australia has had in 1000 years to puff up his political campaign by having the government take over the water supply with the people having no choice now that it has been allowed to reach dangerous levels.

And although there are areas of the world where accords are trying to be worked out such as in an attempt to share the Nile, the future predictions and scenarios do not bode well for a planet bent on wasteful consumption in ignorance of the fact that our global water supply is finite with an ever expanding population and increasing repercussions from our inability to truly reign in our selfish use of this most precious lifeblood while continuing our rapacious use of fossil fuels, with private corporations raking in BILLIONS exploiting this resource for profit while those in poorer countries literally die for a drink of waer.

That is why I absolutely believe that global water policy must be a part of any climate change talks to go beyond Kyoto, with the World Bank being told to keep its hands OFF our water which is a human right and which must remain a public trust.

I truly do hope for the future while dreading it as well. We surely are living in times where our moral will is being put to the test. How we react to that test will either bring about the world we can have if we truly want it, or plunge us into a scenario that until now was unthinkable. The choice is ours.


Robert said…
This was a good summary of world wide water war flashpoints. I tend to focus my energy here in the US Southeast. This does elevate the discussion of future water sustainability.